NSW rail union to switch off Opal readers

The union will switch off card readers in the latest escalation of its dispute with the government.

The union will switch off card readers in the latest escalation of its dispute with the government. Photo: AAP

The long-running stoush between the rail union and NSW government is set to escalate again with the union poised to switch off Opal card readers, in a move that will cost the government millions.

The readers will be turned off for the afternoon peak from Thursday, after members of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union voted in favour of taking protected industrial action last week.

They will remain switched off from 3-7pm every day – for an indefinite period – the union said in a statement on Monday.

RTBU secretary Alex Claassens said the union hoped to create a major headache for the government, while keeping commuters on side.

The move is the latest in an extended and bitter dispute between the government and the rail union, as the parties try to negotiate an enterprise agreement after the previous one expired.

They are also at loggerheads over a mothballed fleet of Korean-built intercity trains, which the union says are unsafe to operate.

“Rail workers have been committed to providing commuters with free travel because frankly, they deserve it after everything the NSW government has put them through,” Mr Claassens said.

“Everybody is fed up with the ongoing rail dispute, but we’ve no choice but to continue to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to force the NSW government to provide safe trains for commuters and fair wages and conditions for workers.”

Shutting down the gates around-the-clock was estimated to cost the government $1.5 million-$2 million in lost revenue each day.

The action would cost the government approximately $50 million if the shutdown continued for a month.

Earlier this year the union also tried to hit the government in the hip pocket by leaving ticket gates open.

The industrial action was largely unsuccessful, with most commuters continuing to tap on and pay for fares.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said last month people were not interested in the union’s tactics and just wanted to get on with their day.

“The reason [the union] have moved to shut down the machines is because by leaving the gates open, the majority of people in our city tapped on and tapped off,” he said.

Treasurer Matt Kean last month accused the union of using the travelling public as political playthings.

“It’s got to stop,” he said.

“We will continue to stand up for the people of this state and call out their disgraceful behaviour.”


Topics: NSW
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